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Macbeth Illustration


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SCENE I. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches
First Witch
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. (note 1)

Second Witch
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch
Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time. (note 2)

First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone (note 3)
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got, (note 4)
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, (note 5)
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf (note 6)
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark, (note 7)
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse, (note 8)
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, (note 9)
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Enter HECATE to the other three Witches (note 10)
O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

Music and a song: 'Black spirits,' & c (note 11)
HECATE retires
Second Witch
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is't you do?

A deed without a name.

I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me:
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty waves (note 12)
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down; (note 13)
Though castles topple on their warders' heads;
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure
Of nature's germens tumble all together, (note 14)
Even till destruction sicken; answer me
To what I ask you.

First Witch

Second Witch

Third Witch
We'll answer.

First Witch
Say, if thou'dst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters?

Call 'em; let me see 'em.

First Witch
Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten
Her nine farrow; grease that's sweaten (note 15)
From the murderer's gibbet throw
Into the flame.

Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show! (note 16)

Thunder. First Apparition: an armed Head (note 17)
Tell me, thou unknown power,--

First Witch
He knows thy thought:
Hear his speech, but say thou nought. (note 18)

First Apparition
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough. (note 19)

Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution, thanks;
Thou hast harp'd my fear aright: but one (note 20)
word more,--

First Witch
He will not be commanded: here's another,
More potent than the first.

Thunder. Second Apparition: A bloody Child
Second Apparition
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!

Had I three ears, I'ld hear thee. (note 21)

Second Apparition
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth.

Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?
But yet I'll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder.

Thunder. Third Apparition: a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand
What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round (note 22)
And top of sovereignty?

Listen, but speak not to't.

Third Apparition
Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill (note 23)
Shall come against him.

That will never be
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree (note 24)
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! good!
Rebellion's head, rise never till the wood (note 25)
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Banquo's issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?

Seek to know no more.

I will be satisfied: deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this? (note 26)

First Witch

Second Witch

Third Witch

Show his eyes, and grieve his heart;
Come like shadows, so depart!

A show of Eight Kings, the last with a glass in his hand; GHOST OF BANQUO

Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo: down!
Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls. And thy hair, (note 27)
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first. (note 28)
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom? (note 29)
Another yet! A seventh! I'll see no more:
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass (note 30)
Which shows me many more; and some I see
That two-fold balls and treble scepters carry: (note 31)
Horrible sight! Now, I see, 'tis true;
For the blood-bolter'd Banquo smiles upon me, (note 32)
And points at them for his.

Apparitions vanish
What, is this so?

First Witch
Ay, sir, all this is so: but why
Stands Macbeth thus amazedly?
Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites, (note 33)
And show the best of our delights:
I'll charm the air to give a sound,
While you perform your antic round:
That this great king may kindly say,
Our duties did his welcome pay.

Music. The witches dance and then vanish, with HECATE
Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour
Stand aye accursed in the calendar!
Come in, without there!

What's your grace's will?

Saw you the weird sisters?

No, my lord.

Came they not by you?

No, indeed, my lord.

Infected be the air whereon they ride;
And damn'd all those that trust them! I did hear
The galloping of horse: who was't came by? (note 34)

'Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word
Macduff is fled to England.

Fled to England!

Ay, my good lord.

Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits: (note 35)
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be (note 36)
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool; (note 37)
This deed I'll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!--Where are these gentlemen? (note 38)
Come, bring me where they are.


(1) Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. It has been detailedly pointed out by Johnson with how much judgment Shakespeare has selected all the circumstances of his witchcraft ceremonies, . and how exactly he has conformed to common opinions and traditions therein. Douce also observes that 'Dr. Warburton has adduced classical authority for the connection between Hecate and this animal [the cat], with a view to trace the reason why it was the agent and favourite of modern witches. It may be added, that among the Egyptians the cat was sacred to Isis, or the moon - their Hecate or Diana - and accordingly worshipped with great honour. Many cat-idols are still preserved in the cabinets of the curious, and the sistrum or rattle used by the priests of Isis is generally ornamented with a figure of a cat with a crescent on its head."-
(2) Harper. The Folio prints 'Harpier;' which some suppose to be a mistake for 'harpie,' or 'harpy.' Pope gave "Harper;" and in Marlowe's "Tamburlaine," 1590, "Harper" is printed for 'harpie,' or 'harpy.' The word, however, may be the name of some familiar or spirit known in the demonology of that period. .
(3) Toad, that under cold stone. This line has been variously altered by various emendators; but we leave it as given in the Folio, for the reason stated in Note 27, Act I.
(4) Swelter'd venom In the Philosophical Transactions for 1826 Dr. Davy has shown that the toad is poisonous, the poison lying diffused over the body immediately under the skin.
(5) Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting. See Note 4, Act III., "Measure for Measure," and Note 59, Act II., "Midsummer Night's Dream."
(6) Gulf. 'Throat,' 'gullet.'
(7) Ravin'd. Here used for 'ravining' or 'ravenous.'
(8) Sliver.'d. 'Sliced.'
(9) Chaudron. An old name for 'entrails.' Spelt also 'chawdron' and 'chauldron.'
(10) Enter Hecate. In the Folio this stage-direction runs thus: " Enter Hecat, and the other. three Witches;' "but it appears improbable that Shakespeare intended more than the three weird sisters already known to Macbeth to be upon the stage in his present interview with them. Moreover, it was frequently the custom in old plays to accompany the stage-direction, marking the entrance of a fresh personage upon the scene by a recapitulation of those already present.
(11) "Black spirits," &c. This song is also found entire in both Middleton'B " Witch " and Davenant's version of "Macbeth." See Note 102, Act Ill.
(12) Yesty. 'Frothy,' 'foaming,' as yeast foams and works, forming a froth on its surface.
(13) Though bladed corn be lodg'd.:" In Scot's "Discoverie of Witchcraft" it is said of witches that "they can transferre corn in the blade from one place to another;" and, in the article on Husbandry in Comenius, "Janua Linguarum," 1673, it is mentioned that "as soon as standing corn
.shoots up to a blade, it is in danger of scathe by a tempest."
(14) Germins. 'Principles of germination,' 'seeds.' Shakespeare uses the same word in Act III, sc. 2, "King Lear."
(15) Her nine farrow. In Holinshed's "History of Scotland," 1577, among the 1aws of Kenneth II, it is stated: that "if a sow eate her piqges, let hyr be stoned to deathe and buried, that no man eate of hyr flesh."
(16) Deftly. 'Dexterously,' 'skilfully.'
(17) An apparition of an armed head rises. Upton pointed out that these three apparitions are symbolical: the first representing Macbeth's head cut off and brought to Malcolm by Macduff; the second, Macduff "untimely ripped" at the period of his birth; and the third, Malcolm's soldiers approaching Dunsinane Castle under the screen of boughs borne before them.
(18) Say thou naught. Silence was imposed during an incantation. See Note 10, Act IV, "Tempest."
(19) Dismiss me:- enough. It was believed that spirits summoned to appear were intolerant of questioning, and were impatient to be gone.
(20) Thou hast harp'd my fear aright. 'Thou hast struck the right keynote of my fear.'
(21) Had I three ears, I'd hear thee. Macbeth's eager reply to the triple adjuration,"Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!" (22) The round and top of sovereignty. Meaning the portion of a crown that encircles the head and the ornament that rises above it.
(23) To high Dunsinane hill. In the present passage Shakespeare accents the word "Dunsinane" as it is usually pronounced (Dunsinnan); but in the six other passages of the play where he uses the word, he accents it as if it were pronounced Dunsinane.
(24) Impress. Here used in the sense of 'press into his service.'
(25) Rebellious head. The Folio prints 'rebellious dead;' which was altered by Hanmer to 'rebellion's head,' and by Theobald to the reading which we adopt. Our reason for so doing is that it departs less from the original; and not only expresses 'rebellious body of men,' 'insurgent force' (see Note 92, Act I, " First Part Henry IV.") but allows the inclusive effect of reference to the apparition of the "armed head" that Macbeth has lately beheld. This first apparition, be it remembered, unlike the second and third, speaks warningly, and as if foretelling danger, while the other two seem to inspire encouragement and security; therefore Macbeth may well imagine it to typify the armed force which is likely to rise against him.
(26) Noise. Sometimes used by ancient writers to express , musical sound. 'Spenser, in his "Faerle Queene," book 1., canto xII. st. 39, says, "During the which there was a heavenly noise." And in the 47th Psalm of the Liturgy we find," God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump.
(27) Thy hair. It has been proposed to change "hair" to 'air' or to 'heir;' but the original word draws the spectator's attention, to the head of hair surmounted by the symbol of royalty which so disturbs Macbeth in those whom he recognises as but "too like the spirit of Banquo," and therefore as his progeny who are to become kings.
(28) Is like the first. 'Is like that of the first.' A similar form of ellipsis to those pointed out in Note 75, Act I., "Coriolanus."
(29) The crack of doom. ' The disruption of universal Nature at doomsday.' See Note 13, Act I
(30) A glass. One of the magic mirrors used by sorcerers. See Note 38, Act II, "Measure for Measure." Among the penal laws against witches there is a passage which states that "they do answer either by the voice, or else set before their eyes in glasses, crystal stones, &c., the pictures or images of the persons or things sought for." There is a description of one of these wondrous mirrors in Spenser's "Faerie Queene" book III., canto II.; and in "The Squire's Tale," by Chaucer, there is "a broad mirrour of glas," sent by "the King of Arabie and of Inde" to King Cambuscan, which possesses many marvellous qualities. Bolsteau's "Theatrum Mundi," translated by John Alday, mentions that "a certaine philosopher did the like to Pompey, the which shewed him in a glasse the order of his enemies' march."
(31) Two-fold balls and treble sceptres carry. The complimentary allusion to James I., referred to in Note 1, Act I.
(32) Blood-bolter'd. 'Blood-smeared,' 'blood-clotted.' Malone states that "in Warwickshire, when a horse, sheep, or other animal perspires much, and any of the hair or wool, in consequence of such perspiration, or any redundant humour, becomes matted into tufts with grime and sweat, he is said to be boltered; and whenever the blood issues out and coagulates, forming the locks into hard clotted bunches, the beast is said to be blood-boltered. When a boy has a broken head, so that his hair is matted together with blood, his head is said to be bolteret." The term is therefore appropriately applied to Banquo, who had "twenty trenched gashes on his head."
(33) Sprites. In Shakespeare's time 'spirits' was often thus written and pronounced.
(34) Horse. Here used for horses.
(35) Anticipat'st. 'Preventest,' by taking away the opportunity.
(36) Firstlings. Here used to express 'first imagined deeds,' and first enacted deeds; while in the passage referred to in Note 7, Prologue, "Troilus and Cressida," the word is employed for 'earliest deeds,' 'first acts.'
(37) Trace. 'Follow,' 'succeed.'
(38) But no more sights! The word "sights" - has been changed to 'flights' and to 'sprItes' here; but we think that "sights" clearly refer to the apparitions and vision shown to Macbeth by the witches; he having actually called the latter "horrible sight! " as it passes before him.

21st Jun 2005


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